South Africa: Surgical Society Gears Up for Annual Charity Scrub Run

The Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon is fast approaching, and the University of Cape Town's (UCT) Surgical Society (SurgSoc) needs your help to raise some much-needed funds for the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.

Last year the group of medical and non-medical students took to the streets of Cape Town and raised more than R200 000 for the hospital's Weekend Waiting List Initiative.

This year the SurgSoc hopes to match or surpass that figure. The group will don their medical scrubs and takkies for a 5 km or 10 km virtual peace Scrub Run across the country on 18 October. All proceeds will go towards the hospital's emergency centre expansion project.

"We realise that there are many additional challenges this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, we are so grateful to every runner who has signed up. Every contribution makes a huge difference, and we value every donation towards this worthy cause," said Alana Williams, the SurgSoc's head of social events and outreach.

Deserving beneficiary

The emergency centre at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital is currently the only dedicated paediatric emergency centre in Southern Africa. Roughly 45 000 children are treated there annually and receive around-the-clock medical care.

But the centre faces a range of limitations, including space constraints. In the current setting, Williams said, it's often difficult to separate patients with infectious diseases from those with non-infectious diseases, and it is necessary to provide a safe, comfortable and confidential space to treat patients.

"As future health professionals, we'd like to ensure that all children get access to medical care and are given the tools they need."

The expansion project will include upgrades to the resuscitation area, and additional consulting rooms will be built. Other projects in the pipeline include adding a specialised burns unit, isolation and decontamination rooms and a treatment and calming room for victims of violence. While the upgrade project is already under way, Williams said that there is still so much work to be done.

"Ultimately, these funds will aid in creating a safe space for paediatric patients, which will facilitate their health and well-being," she said.

"As future health professionals, we'd like to ensure that all children get access to medical care and are given the tools they need in order to thrive."

Running for charity

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual race will take place virtually this year, which means runners who would like to participate can do so from anywhere in the country.

Runners will need to download the Cape Town Virtual Marathon app to track their time and record the distance that they've signed up for. They can take to the road at any time between 06:00 and 10:00. For the first time ever, runners also have the luxury of choosing their own route.

"We are truly passionate about the incredible work [being] done at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital ... the Scrub Run is an exciting event on our calendar that all of us always look forward to," Williams said.

Play your part

She urged the campus community to get involved and to encourage their families and friends to join too.

"Students, staff, anyone: please join us. You don't have to be a health sciences student to participate. The Scrub Run is open to all. The more participants we have, the greater the impact will be," she said.

The idea behind this charity event is to collect donations for every kilometre that participants complete. The initiative will use the GivenGain platform, which allows donors to safely make contributions into the charity's account.

"Every contribution makes a huge difference and will go a long way to helping more children get essential and quality medical care."

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